[Adventure Time] Let's talk about childhood fantasies!

edited April 2010 in Story Games
I really, really wanted to talk about Adventure Time but seeing as this is Story Games I suppose I should tie it in with our purview. One element in particular that endeared me to the program was its childhood/ish fantasy - I would like to open a discussion on that.

So, creatives, tell me:

Does an the unconstrained, 'innocent' imaginative experience have a place in the formalized, largely adult world of RPGs?
[As a disclaimer that's not to say that the formal RPG is without imagination. Rather, it's structured to hone it to a specific experience, as opposed to the rambling eclecticism that, I recall, characterized my childhood fantasies.]

Have any imaginative themes from your halcyon youth perpetuated themselves into your adult lives? Why? Has your imagination degenerated or strengthened over time?

Can designed RPGs emulate the non sequitur feel of the 'childish' imagination? Should they?

Right! Go!
This thread is going to be mathematical!

Comments

  • Trying to emulate the non sequitur (or seemingly non sequitur) content of something like Adventure Time or Axe Cop is always a pretty dangerous stunt to try. It's just too easy to end up producing the kind of obnoxious, boring "random" humor (well, "humor") we've all seen too much of on the Internet. Unless you're some kind of weirdo genius like Pendleton Ward or an actual child, I don't really know how one can manage to do that style of bizarre, whimsical stuff without veering over the line into monkey-spork stupidity. And, man, I sure don't know how you'd design a game that helps other people do it.

    ...But then that Axe Cop / Danger Patrol game at PAX East sounded absolutely glorious, so it's probably possible.
  • Algrebraic!

    So, to talk about AT in terms of why it's important for Story Gamers, I think the big deal is unrestrained imagination. If you pull the focus away from what is slick looking (recently Gun Thief to me epitomizes this...and I do think it's an awesome idea, btw), you can put a rainbow unicorn in your story and still make it cool. It's hard to articulate, but AT teaches us that it's ok to just be creative and not worry about whether everyone is going to like it. Go absurd and put a dog that increases in size for no reason. Vampire Princesses, talking candy, ice kings....

    Makes me feel like a kid again, when I watch it. I want that as a game experience.
  • Posted By: Matt Sheridan...But then thatAxe Cop/Danger Patrolgame at PAX East sounded absolutely glorious, so it's probably possible.
    Tell me more!

    It struck me that the 'deal' with the seemingly non sequitur content of the childhood imagination is that, whatever is produced, that figment is not treated in a trivial manner. The 6-year-old interacts as meaningfully with the Old King as he does with the bus-driving linoleum sugar-glider.
  • I had a refrigerator box that was a space station, with a button for frickin' EVERYTHING. Ice cream flavors, missiles, lasers, translating into Russian...
  • I actually remember quite well my attempts at GMing at ages between 10-13 (Star Frontiers, mostly). I even remember the scenarios, goals and "(space) dungeons", for the most part.

    Damn, but if that wasn't some retarded-ass gaming. I mean, it was fun, but idiotic and fleeting as a game of calvinball vs an even light game of dodgeball as a teenager.
    Posted By: PotemkinDoes an the unconstrained, 'innocent' imaginative experience have a place in the formalized, largely adult world of RPGs?
    Not really. Axe Cop is fun to read only if you know that it was designed and written by a child. If anyone else wrote it, it would have been ignored as a rampage of silly, random immaturity (possibly drug-enhanced), and a damn shame given the artist's talent. But as it is, we all know that going in, and thus it's totally entertaining, watching this world of a child unfold in adult pictures. Idiosyncrasy.

    I wouldn't want to play an Axe Cop or Adventure Time RPG. Goofy shit might happen that makes for interesting and psychadelic play reports, but it would be about as fulfilling as a donut made of air; I'd probably at some point find an excuse to leave the session.
    Posted By: PotemkinHave any imaginative themes from your halcyon youth perpetuated themselves into your adult lives? Why? Has your imagination degenerated or strengthened over time?
    As I got older, I got better at telling stories. Even "random, chaotic, twisted, surreal, meaningless" (see: Maid, Teenagers from Outer Space, or the Fudge FATE "The Chronicles of Vin Diesel" game I ran) I can do far better as an adult (or even late teen) than I could as a kid. Trying to go back there would be like trying to purposely limit my vocabulary, but of ideas and stories instead of words.
    Posted By: PotemkinCan designed RPGs emulate the non sequitur feel of the 'childish' imagination? Should they?
    There is no "should". If someone is up for creating such an RPG, the only answer is "do it"! Now, whether anyone will actually play that game (much less buy it, but marketing yech is not topic for this discussion) is a different question. The closest one I've seen is "WTF", part of the NoPress Game Anthology, with rotating GMs. But I've never played it, simply because even if I get together a group of people receptive to this, even as a one-shot... there's plenty of other one-shots we'd rather play first.

    -Andy
  • As someone who loves things such as Adventure Time and Axe Cop, I've found that if you have players who are in the mood you can totally make a game that ends up with all sorts of weird, crazy, and awesome shenanigans.

    The game Super Action Now! by Marshall Burns was, for me, a truly excellent game for that style of play.
  • Dammit, now I have to write a game called SPACE DUNGEON. Thanks a lot, jerks.
  • Posted By: AndyThe closest one I've seen is "WTF", part of the NoPress Game Anthology, with rotating GMs.
    Yup, that was my first attempt at systemizing gonzo. A clunky one at that. I've seen much, much more success at childlike randomness with "Happy Birthday, Robot!" I hypothesize that a number of elements converge in that game to encourage some pretty zany stuff. Heck, people have described it as the Axe Cop game already.

    * Minimal Prep: There's not a huge time investment in learning how to play or in keeping any particular character out of harm's way, so players have more license to get really zany.

    * Short Play Time: Again, because the average game lasts around half-an-hour, it's not a big deal to introduce some... okay, a lot of goofiness to the story.

    * Constraints: A player's individual influence on a story is rather constrained at first, so the beginning of the story is very much a collaborative event. Things get more loose in the middle, but by the end it gets constrained again.

    * Narrative Instinct: No matter how crazy things get, I've noticed that players have a natural impulse to re-incorporate past events or characters before the story is over. That instinct forms the coherent baseline against which incoherent randomness can contrast itself.

    That's my own analysis though. I don't know that an Adventure Time RPG would require these elements, but they definitely work for HBR.
  • Kids aren't magical idea fountains. They have lots of random ideas because they don't know how to stick with *one* idea and craft it into something worthy.

    The one advantage kids have is that they haven't yet been taught to hate and fear cliches.
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